How Hotcopper Holdings Limited (ASX:HOT) Delivered A Better ROE Than Its Industry

With an ROE of 26.66%, Hotcopper Holdings Limited (ASX:HOT) outpaced its own industry which delivered a less exciting 9.48% over the past year. However, whether this above-industry ROE is actually impressive depends on if it can be maintained. This can be measured by looking at the company’s financial leverage. With more debt, HOT can invest even more and earn more money, thus pushing up its returns. However, ROE only measures returns against equity, not debt. This can be distorted, so let’s take a look at it further. Check out our latest analysis for Hotcopper Holdings

Breaking down ROE — the mother of all ratios

Firstly, Return on Equity, or ROE, is simply the percentage of last years’ earning against the book value of shareholders’ equity. For example, if the company invests A$1 in the form of equity, it will generate A$0.27 in earnings from this. Investors that are diversifying their portfolio based on industry may want to maximise their return in the Internet Software and Services sector by choosing the highest returning stock. But this can be misleading as each company has different costs of equity and also varying debt levels, which could artificially push up ROE whilst accumulating high interest expense.

Return on Equity = Net Profit ÷ Shareholders Equity

ROE is assessed against cost of equity, which is measured using the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) – but let’s not dive into the details of that today. For now, let’s just look at the cost of equity number for Hotcopper Holdings, which is 8.55%. Given a positive discrepancy of 18.11% between return and cost, this indicates that Hotcopper Holdings pays less for its capital than what it generates in return, which is a sign of capital efficiency. ROE can be broken down into three different ratios: net profit margin, asset turnover, and financial leverage. This is called the Dupont Formula:

Dupont Formula

ROE = profit margin × asset turnover × financial leverage

ROE = (annual net profit ÷ sales) × (sales ÷ assets) × (assets ÷ shareholders’ equity)

ROE = annual net profit ÷ shareholders’ equity

ASX:HOT Last Perf Mar 6th 18
ASX:HOT Last Perf Mar 6th 18

Basically, profit margin measures how much of revenue trickles down into earnings which illustrates how efficient the business is with its cost management. Asset turnover shows how much revenue Hotcopper Holdings can generate with its current asset base. Finally, financial leverage will be our main focus today. It shows how much of assets are funded by equity and can show how sustainable the company’s capital structure is. ROE can be inflated by disproportionately high levels of debt. This is also unsustainable due to the high interest cost that the company will also incur. Thus, we should look at Hotcopper Holdings’s debt-to-equity ratio to examine sustainability of its returns. Currently, Hotcopper Holdings has no debt which means its returns are driven purely by equity capital. Therefore, the level of financial leverage has no impact on ROE, and the ratio is a representative measure of the efficiency of all its capital employed firm-wide.

ASX:HOT Historical Debt Mar 6th 18
ASX:HOT Historical Debt Mar 6th 18

Next Steps:

ROE is one of many ratios which meaningfully dissects financial statements, which illustrates the quality of a company. Hotcopper Holdings exhibits a strong ROE against its peers, as well as sufficient returns to cover its cost of equity. Its high ROE is not likely to be driven by high debt. Therefore, investors may have more confidence in the sustainability of this level of returns going forward. ROE is a helpful signal, but it is definitely not sufficient on its own to make an investment decision.

For Hotcopper Holdings, I’ve put together three pertinent aspects you should further examine: